Tag Archives: crafts

I Learned How To Scroll Saw Today, What Did You Do?

To say I live in a remote part of Canada may be an understatement. The town I live in is approximately 500 people strong and a hair south of the arctic circle in the Northwest Territories. There are no permanent roads in or out, no coffee shops, no retail stores, no theatres, nada, nuthin’, zip, zilch. What’s a girl to do in a town like this?

I took up scroll sawing, natch.

A scroll saw is a craft tool used to create intricate and fine detail into thin pieces of wood. Those who are well practiced in this craft can literally turn blocks of wood into lace. I thought if I could learn to scroll saw, then I could stay busy AND force all my friends and family to display my ‘art.’

This is Gord. Gord has been scroll sawing for about 15 years and has graciously offered to teach me EVERYTHING he knows.  Gord is also from Newfoundland, which means that half of the time I don’t even know what he is saying, but he does tell me “good job b’y” which I think means I’m doing ok.

These lace beauties are the result of Gord’s handiwork. I’d say I feel pretty good about him as a teacher.

Because my roommates and I had just cut down our Christmas tree from the woods, I had ornaments on the brain. I found some free vector images of feathers on the internet and thought they’d be a good and easy first project. Some other tools that were needed, in addition to a scroll saw, were thin craft plywood, spray glue, stencil, scissors, and sandpaper.

The first thing I learned is, that because the wood is thin, it is much easier to saw through three pieces, plus you get three times the finished product with each cut (efficiency!). The three pieces of wood are taped around the entire perimeter to hold them together. The stencil of feathers is then roughly cut out and adhered to the board with spray glue.

I also learned the basics of using a scroll saw. It’s beautifully simple. A blade is held in between two pairs of clamps, as well, there is an on and off dial that rotates to adjust speed.

Before I was allowed to get at my feathers, I had to practice on nonsense shapes (wax on, wax off). Shown above are my feathers after they had been cut out and glued to the three pieces of craft plywood and placed on the scroll saw.

My feathers! Once they were cut, they were sanded down with 150 gauge sandpaper and an even finer 240 gauge sandpaper. Aren’t they bee-u-tee-ful? I still need to varnish them and figure out a way to hang them from the tree, but I’m very satisfied with the result to this point.

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Simple DIY Winter Hostess Gifts

Valley and Co. Lifestyle DIY ornamentImage via Valley and Co. DIY Lifestyle

It’s always nice to bring a little thank you when a friend or acquaintance goes to the trouble of having guests over for a nice meal.  Here are some simple DIY hostess gift ideas, many of which you can make up now in bulk so that you always have something on hand to give.

Hot Chocolate

homemade gift of peppermint hot chocolateImages via My Recipes

Mix up some fancy cocoa packages to give away, including little extras like mini marshmallows, peppermint sticks, vanilla sugar and mini chocolate chips.  I’ve seen this packaged all sorts of interesting ways: layered in a mason jar like above; with each ingredient in little test tubes; in cellophane cones.

Hot chocolate on a stick, with homemade marshmallow!

Image via Make and Take

If you’re feeling a tad more adventurous, try this hot chocolate on a stick recipe from Make and Take.  This combines homemade marshmallows and chocolate blocks on popsicle sticks that are swirled and melted into warmed milk.  Mmmmmm….


vintage asian tea canistersImage via Bijou Kaleidoscope

A simple selection of individually wrapped teas together with a little jar of honey and other garnishes like lemons, cinnamon sticks, ginger root make a wonderful gift this time of year.  Bonus points if you package the tea in a vintage tea canister or other decorative box.

Scented Sugars

homemade vanilla sugarImage via Hip Hostess

trio of scented sugarsImage via Kitchen Samurai

Scented sugars make a wonderful gift and are perfect in a morning tea, bowl of porridge, or atop fresh fruit.  And they couldn’t be easier to make.  Pick up, or re-use some glass jars with tightly fitted lids, add granulated sugar and an aromatic such as halved vanilla pods, mint leaves, lemon and orange peels, or rose petals.  Let the jars of sugar sit in its closed jar for about one week and ta-dah: A uniquely sweet gift! How awesome too that this gift is shelf stable, beautiful to present and inexpensive to make.

Holiday Ornaments

Got kids or visiting grandkids looking for a fun sparkle mess of a craft, because this one is perfect.  Pick up some simple glass baubles (or a less breakable material like Styrofoam balls if little ones are involved) and create a masterpiece for your host’s tree.

DIY glittle baubleImage via Shelterness

Simply coat the bauble with a glue stick and dip/sprinkle with sparkles.  For a snowball look, coat in Epsom salts.  It’s really simple and fun if you’re a crafter.

snowball ornament made with epsom saltsImage via My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

homemade glitter ornamentImage via Ideas Home Concept


knit washclothsImage via PurlBee

If knitting is your thing (it’s mine!), these charming washcloths by Whit’s Knits are made from a soft machine-wash cotton.  The “log cabin” design makes for a visually interesting colour blocked look that are sure to be soft yet durable.  For the full tutorial with loads of pics, just visit Purl Bee.

Hope you find time to relax and enjoy as the holiday season starts ramping up!

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Getting Hooked on Amigurumi

crochet hook amigurumiAmigurumi Crochet Hook via Nerdigurumi

Amigurumi is the Japanese craft of making animals and anthropomorphic objects out of crochet. The sculptural capabilities of crochet has drawn many artists to the medium. Today we’ll be looking at some traditional crocheted creations and a few examples of artists who have used crochet and amigurumi to create tactile and sometimes subversive works of art.

adorable mamma and baby amigurumi via tournicote... a cloche piedimage via Tournicote….a cloche pied

Cuteness is one of the most prevalent attributes of amigurumi, and there is certainly plenty of it to spare in this doll duo. Although amigurumi originated in Japan it has spread all over the world; these dolls were made by French doll and crochet artist Lisenn Cabane.

collection of crocheted pearscrochet pears pattern via salihan

Food is a common subject for amigurumi, people have stitched everything from sushi to happy meals. These pears would be an easy first project for anyone starting amigurumi, and I love how much charm they have with their broad smiles.

Amigurumi Toy DesignAmigurumi Toy Design by Chity Soy Yo

Chity Soy Yo is an amigurumi designer who creates friendly-looking toy sculptures that look like they would be perfectly at home in a Studio Ghibli film. I find it amazing how such simple shapes can have so much personality with the right facial expressions and details.

Nathan Vincent's amigurumi taxidermiNathan Vincent

Combining taxidermy and amigurumi, Nathan Vincent creates textile sculptures that are touchable, but also slightly unsettling. Along with these amazing animals, Vincent has also fashioned gas masks, guns and lawnmowers using stitchery, all of which can be seen on his site.

boobs and dinks by Shannon Gerrardboobs and dinks exhibition by Shannon Gerrard

Toronto artist and craftster Shannon Gerrard created these anatomical crochet sculptures as teaching aids to promote early detection of cancer; inside these miniature body parts are small ‘lumps’ that can be found through careful checking.

sculpture by Shawna RichardsonSculpture by Shauna Richardson via Juxtapoz

You are looking at the world’s largest crochet sculpture, made by Shauna Richardson. This lion is one of three that she made out of a mountain of wool for her project Lionheart. You can find out more about Richardson and her work here.

Once you’ve mastered a few crochet stitches you can create anything your imagination can dream up. All you need is a couple crochet hooks, yarn and some stuffing. Two great tutorials I’ve found for creating basic amigurumi shapes can be found here and here. There are places online where you can find free patterns but some of the best patterns can be found in Japanese craft books.

Happy Friday Everyone!

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mt Factory Tour

mt factory tour busFactory Tour Bus via short, small & sweet

The popularity of washi tape has exploded in Asia but also in other parts of the world, so much so that it has even inspired a line of t-shirts created by popular Japanese brand Uniqlo. To show their appreciation to the lovers of washi tape mt tape recently hosted a factory tour in Kamashi, complete with a washi decorated tour bus and special art exhibitions. I wish I could have been there, but luckily a few photos of the event have made their way online.

washi enhanced mini carMini image via short small sweet

There were a number of installation pieces created for the tour including this sweet washi-enhanced mini. I love how cheerful stripes of washi tape can make any object cooler (even one that was pretty cool to begin with.) I would be seriously thrilled to drive in any car that looked as good as this one.

Asai Yusuke's installation pieceAsai Yusuke Washi installation image via short small sweet

Asai Yusuke’s washi tape installation was the largest exhibit. Her art reminds me of chalk drawings, and I love how they make this otherwise drab factory look so whimsical. There was also a section where people could add to the design.

Washi tape miniature houseimage via Poppytalk

They also set up a number of miniature house sculptures to show how washi tape can be used to decorate your home.  The pint-size scale of these sculptures make them so inviting; I can’t help thinking what a fabulous playhouse this would make.

limited edition washi tapeLimited edition washi tape via Polkaros

A pop-up shop was also set up so visitors could get their hands on limited edition tape rolls, stickers and other goodies. I am particularly fond of the two patterns above.

new series of mt washi tapesmt Casa image via Walk:

Here’s a photo featuring their new series of washi tapes mt Casa which come in extra large sizes and new prints.  I love the striped washi tape effect on furnishings; it instantly makes an ordinary piece of furniture look like a designer piece.

new small, medium and large washi tapes

image via washimatta

This is the new collection of large and medium sized tapes and stickers. This tour made me want to try creating a washi tape design in our master bedroom, but it’s going to be tough to pick a favourite pattern.

Happy Friday Everyone!

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The Possibilities of Chewed Paper

Papier mache doggie

"Franske" by Janneke Neele

I’ve always loved the optimism and hope that are so intrinsic in paper. Blank paper represents all sorts of possibilities associated with tabula rasa, that blank slate that waits to be filled with marks — words, forms, colors. But even after a sheet of paper has served its purpose, it amazingly still holds so much potential! It can be recycled and reborn, and not just as a blank sheet. It can take the shape of anything — anything!

That’s the magic of papier mache — “chewed paper” in French. When paper returns to its pulpy, chewed up state, it becomes an obedient biddable medium waiting for a creator’s command.

Wands inspired by Harry Potter

Harry Potter wands by my friend Karen's boys.

Penguins made with papier mache

Penguins created by one of Karen's sons.

I decided to try my hand at this pulpy craft ever since my friend Karen started talking about papier mache on her blog, and how her 2 boys always had tons of fun creating mashed up paper versions of their favorite characters. But, procrastinator that I am, my materials just sat in a sad old box and, and my plans just got pushed into the back of my mind, hopefully germinating, biding its time until it hatched into fully formed works of papered fabulousness.

So I thought I’d look for some papier mache masterpieces in the great big internet to pump up my enthusiasm for the project, and get those creative juices flowing. Hopefully they’d generate enough heat so as to get me off my lazy behind and start something already.

Bowl with gold leaf on the inside

Bowl via Etsy

What I discovered is that papier mache objects can run the gamut between decorative yet functional objects (above) to fine art (below) that truly exist for its own sake.

Papier mache sculpture

by Janneke Neele

Papier Mache Zebra Bust

Via Anthropologie

I love that the text hasn’t been painted over in this zebra bust. What a lovely texture.

Kashmir Papier Mache eggsThese papier mache eggs have beautiful and intricate designs hand-painted by Indian artists.

Papier mache fruit centerpiece

via Martha Stewart

Decorative teacups

DIY papier mache teacups

How gorgeous is this? This teacup project is one that I’d really like to embark on.

Side table made of papier mache

Papier mache table via West Elm

If like this side table from West Elm, Prudent Baby has an awesome DIY project that comes awfully close.

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